Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Cria at Misty Haven

The waiting is over.  There were two pregnant alpacas at Misty Haven this spring and now there are two cria on the ground.  These first time moms, Alicia and Makushla, have been sold to new alpaca owners.  The alpacas will stay here until the cria are old enough to move. 

I've had plenty of false warnings to get my heart-racing.  Tail held high, then nothing...bagged up with milk, then nothing...swollen nether regions, then nothing.  When I checked Thursday and Friday morning, there was no sign of anything happening.  Friday, Makushla was a bit separated from the herd and laying down, but she didn't look uncomfortable. 

Friday, I was picking up my new-to-me car at the dealers at 1:00pm.  The sales guy said it would take 20 minutes.  Two hours later, I'm back on the highway heading home.  I wasn't really worried.  After about 30 births on this farm, I figured I knew when it wasn't the day.

Guess what was in the field when I got home?  It had just happened as the cria was still trying to get steady on her legs.  The rest of the female herd hadn't even noticed they had a new one in the group.

This is a picture of her and her mom, Makushla, on Sunday, less than 48 hours old.

She's a lovely colour, a very dark reddish brown with a very unique white nose with brown freckles.

Saturday, I had a booth at the Farmer's Market.  Hubby was home keeping an eye on things.  I got home at about 1:20pm from the market.  Hubby said that I just missed another birth by ten minutes.

After 3 weeks of careful monitoring and postponing any unnecessary appointments, I ended up missing both events!

Alicia had just had her little white female cria.  She was on the tiny side at 14.6 lbs, but hit the ground running.  No interest in finding the teats right away, she just ran around the field with her poor mom humming and clucking behind her.  We were worried she wouldn't figure out who her mom was when she decided to settle down.  But she did.

We've had plenty of rain here over the past weeks, so the piece of yard between the barn and the pasture was a run of deep clay mud.  Not great for a little cria.  We usually let the mother alpaca keep her baby whereever she chooses to take her.  The pasture is safer for the cria - no dark corners to get lost in, less likely to get stepped, less germs in the grass than on a barn floor, etc. 

But when it really started raining on Friday evening, I carried her through the muck into the barn with Alicia right beside me.  I put her in the barn and boom - she flew right out the door.  I tried this 3 times.  The last time she flew (and I say flew, she was airborne), Alicia and I were slower to follow.  By the time I got out, Alicia was running around in a panic and no baby was in sight.  I noticed the boys on the other fence line were freaking out about something.  When I walked over, I found the cria stuck between a shelter and a fence.  They don't have the skill to back up at that age and I couldn't fit into that space to get her.  A scary couple of moments but hubby and I were able to pass our hands through the fence to relay her up to the top and over.

The next time she flew out of the barn, I left her and went back the house.  I saw her get stuck behind the barn door.  Again, Alicia was running around in a panic and the cria was not able to back up.  Eventually, she got out on her own.

Just after dark, I went out to check and there she was, curled up beside her mom in the barn, safe but covered in muck from her outdoor adventures.  I kept checking every few hours through the night.  She got more sleep than I did.

Here is a picture of her with the herd Sunday morning at less than 24 hours old.  Can't you just tell she's planning her next adventure?

I know she'll grow up to be a beautiful white alpaca with fine fibre and great conformation to produce good offspring and oodles of white yarn...and my apologies to her new owners who I know read this blog and who some of you may recognize...but....I just HAVE to say this...

"Size matters not, ... Look at me. Judge me by size, do you?” (Yoda from Star Wars)

"May the Force be with you!"

Sunday, June 26, 2011


It is amazing what you can get shipped through the mail from California to Canada.  I was soooo relieved that my "stuff" got through Customs fine and found it's way to my door just prior to the Canada Post labour stoppage.

 Now, before the helicopters start doing a sweep of my back 40 acres, I'll fess up.

 It's Lactation Stimulator herbal blend for the pregnant alpacas.  The two alpacas that are due to deliver are first time moms.  Better safe than sorry, I started adding these herbs to their pellet supplement prior to them delivering.

Alpacas are known for having easy births and great mothering instincts.  However, I try to be prepared with all the goodies I might need in case there are problems.

That includes the book that has seen me through 8 years of alpaca births, "Llama and Alpaca Neonatal Care" by B. Smith, K. Timm and P. Long.   It has a checklist of everything to watch for during labour, including general timelines of stages of labour.  It also has diagrams of difficult positioned cria and how to resolve with manipulations if necessary.  I dig it out every year, just in case.

And then we wait...and wait....and check under tails....and postpone hair appointments...and wait...and check the calendar wondering if we made a mistake.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Almost Summer

Well, I won't bore you with the details of why I've been too busy to blog for several weeks.  Life happens and blog entries sometime get to the bottom of the priority list.  Thanks to everyone who takes the time to leave comments on my blog.  I really do appreciate it.

As I am writing this, I am waiting for our hay producer to call giving us the go-ahead to leave to pick up the first of four loads of hay.  The trailer has been on the truck since Thursday.  It's always a waiting game for the hay-drying weather.  We've had great weather for 4 days and then last night, at our house was a major downpour.  Thankfully, the hay farm, which is about a 30 drive south only got a sprinkling.  The hay wasn't lost but needed a bit more time to dry today.  So, it will be 5:00pm by the time we load our first bale on the trailer.  Gatorade and chocolate bars are our friends today.

We sheared our herd of alpaca in between the rainy days at the beginning of June.  I can't let this go without posting a before and after shot.
This is Lily.  If you've been reading this blog, you will remember Lily, the cria that was rejected by her dam.  Her first start was with dried colostrum, then milk with yogurt, then goat kid milk replacer.  She likely wouldn't have survived except that she was soon adopted by a maiden alpaca who miraculously started lactating to feed her.  It was a happy story.  She's now a saucy yearling with great conformation and lovely fleece.
Well, I guess she doesn't have her fleece anymore!  I do! It's in a couple bags waiting for processing into yarn.

People often ask me if the alpacas mind being sheared.  Well, alpacas seem to have their own personalities and therefore, their own opinions about being sheared.  Giving up control to a group of people, with one of them holding some power shears, is undoubtably not an alpaca's idea of a good time.  However, the majority of ours seem to actually relax on the table to the point of appearing to be snoozing.  No doubt many appreciate the instant cool sensation from being released from those pounds of fibre growth.

Every year, though, there is one winner in "The Most Annoying Alpaca on the Table" award.  This year was Vivaldi.  Vivaldi is normally a very calm, cool 2 year old.  The whole time on the table though, he screamed a very high pitch, deafening squeal and had very vile smelling green spit bubbling out of his mouth.  Of course, since he was laying on his side on the shearing table, his head was rubbing in the green slime.  The person covering the head also came in contact with the smelly green slime.  (That would be my freaked out teenage daughter :) hehehe)

So, without further ado, I present "Vivaldi the Slime-Faced".  Shame on you Vivaldi, you smelly boy.
Maybe next year, he will remember that we are helping him by removing his warm fleece, not trying to harm him.
I found a new book at my public library that every handspinner that I know will want to rush to get their hands on.  It's called "The Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook"  by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius.
It is literally packed with valuable facts about animal fibres used in spinning and interest tidbits of information about the history of our relationship with these animals around the world.  For each breed or species, there is a summary of the animal, pictures of both the animal, and their fibre, facts about the fibre that includes staple length, fleece weight, fiber diameters, lock characteristics and natural colours.  It's just beautiful.
Although I have the library's copy currently, this is one of those books that I should have on my bookshelf.
So far, I've planted lettuce, purple beans, squash and 3 types of tomatoes in my little garden.  I still have room for a couple plants.  This is going to be my most successful garden yet.
I'm not sure how many hours until the actual calendar start of summer is here.  But with any luck, I'll have a loft full of sweet smelling hay.